Thursday, August 26, 2010

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan

by J.M. Barrie
published 1911
completed August 2010

Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan.  Like many, I had only seen the Disney version of the movie and never read the book.  The bare bones of the story are the same.  Peter Pan comes in through the open window of the Darling home one night and the three Darling children--Wendy, Michael, and John--fly off with him to Neverland.  All of the characters are present--Tinker Bell, Captain Hook, Tiger Lily, the Lost Boys, Smee, and the crocodile.

What surprised me the most was that the tone was much darker than the Disney movie.  I purchased this book with the hope of having my 8 year old read it, but I think I'll wait until he's a little older.  The reading level isn't difficult, but there is much more violence.  Neverland is not a happy place, but a dangerous place where the Lost Boys are on constant alert so as to not be killed by the pirates, Indians, or wild animals.

Peter is not as likable in the book.  He is incredibly arrogant and selfish.  That alone wouldn't bother me if it weren't for the fact that his cockiness put the lives of others in danger.  Peter originally sought out Wendy so that the Lost Boys could have a mother.  Peter was very self-centered and throughout the story you could tell that he didn't really care about Wendy.  When she ultimately went home, he was just sad that he didn't have someone to clean up after him.

Tinker Bell was another character I found to be quite different in the book.  She was a nasty little thing with a sharp tongue.  At one point she intentionally tries to get Wendy killed out of jealousy.

Barrie is an excellent story teller but Peter Pan wasn't as captivating as I'd hoped.  I can see why it is a classic.  I'm glad I read it, although I doubt that this is a book that I will revisit.

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